Nigeria threw away a two goal lead but ended up winning 3-2 against Libya thanks to a late strike from Ighalo who scored a brace while Ahmed Musa scored the other goal for Nigeria.
Owngoalnigeria.com senior editor Osas Mahawi picks the five things he noticed during the hard earned win that helped Nigeria to top spot in the group with nine points, one more than South Africa who are on eight points after their 0-0 draw against Seychelles.
1. Uzoho Isn’t Reliable – He has more international games than first team games at club level and that alone should worry the technical crew of the Nigerian team. Francis Uzoho has obvious deficiencies which can only be worked on at club level and not with the national team.
Although he ended the game strongly, his errors almost handed a life line to Libya during the course of the game and even though he wasn’t at fault for any of the goals conceded, he should have however done better with the punch which fell to the Libyan striker who drew them level.
2. Aina Is Suspect – The decision to drop Ola Aina from the Russia 2018 World Cup squad was met with discerning voices but on the strength of his display, he still has a lot to learn in terms of positioning and awareness in the box.
Good going forward, solid in tackles and adept in making timely interceptions and blocks. The drawbacks in his game played a huge role in both goals scored by Libya.
3. Odion Ighalo Has Found His Range – Heavily criticised for his poor performance at the World Cup in Russia. His tally of six goals in his last three games which includes a hattrick and a brace in both games against Libya appears to have silenced his critics.
Although one might argue that his goals were all due to team work the manner which he scored the second of his three goals on Saturday and the way he scored what ended as the winner for Nigeria yesterday showed his predatory instinct and proved right the decision by coach Gernot Rohr to stick with him.
4. Defending Set Piece Is Still A Problem – The duo of William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun are supposed to be the leaders of the Nigerian back four but the ‘Oyibo Wall’ looks suspect as ever when organising the back four during set piece. It has been a worry prior to the World Cup and it’s alarming that it still a problem three games after the World Cup.
5. Moses Simon Is Still Very Relevant – The decision of coach Gernot Rohr to bench the Levante forward in both games against Libya looks like a good brave decision until the latter stages of yesterday’s game where the Eagles needed cover for Aina at right back.
Moses is a traditional winger who defends and also attack base on the game situation. The fact that Samuel Kalu lasted that long on the pitch despite struggling to get involved could be a direct consequence of Rohr’s decision to leave Simon out of the matchday squad as he was left with no option on the wing to provide the balance needed at that time.